Throngs of Greek people voted today against the oppressive status quo of impossible debt which has been piled on them since joining the EU monetary union in 2001. The Greeks (and most other countries) never should have given up their own currency in the first place. The plan was unsustainable from inception. All the creative accounting and monetary tricks since, have been designed to cover up this reality in order to enrich large corporations and bankers at the expense of everything else, including democracy. Today’s “no” vote is finally a step in the right direction.
The outcome also underlines the glaring inter-generational divide between young and old all over the developed world today. Older people are banking on pensions and benefits that they need younger workers to fund. The age 50+ group has not saved enough for these commitments themselves and their spending levels are naturally falling as they age. Not only under-saved, record amounts of older citizens are now carrying unprecedented levels of debt, driving them to work into their 70’s and beyond. In the process, young people the world over are having difficulty finding stable work at a wage that lets them support their own life and household, while paying for the entitlements and public debts amassed. Something has to give.
Debt was increasingly used as the stop-gap of choice the past 15 years in order to make impossible math seem possible. Now that gig is up. Facts must be faced, bad debts written off, entitlements cut and taxes raised. Whatever else happens, today marked a turning point in Europe and beyond. The next phase no doubt will be messy and full of uncomfortable negotiations and concessions, but at least it will be more honest, realistic, productive and ultimately healing of the economic plight now hampering us.
Thank you Greece for finally admitting you are bankrupt. The Emperor is stark naked and now that you admitted it, the rest of the world can too. As embarrassing and painful as such admissions may seem, truth is the first essential step. As always we must admit, repent and reform in order to recover.